Govt asks industry to ramp up supply of protective gears for health workers

A person is taken on a stretcher into the United Memorial Medical Center after going through testing for COVID-19 in Houston. Photo: AP/PTI

The government on Monday said it is continuously working with industry bodies, stakeholders and manufacturers on 24x7 basis to streamline the supply chain of protective gears required by healthcare professionals to fight the coronavirus spread.

In a statement, the textiles ministry said that for last 45 days it, along with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, is attempting to locate adequate number of sources who can produce and supply the requirement of 'Body Coveralls' for government.

Body Coveralls (PPE) is a specialised protective suit meant for high level of protection for health professionals. It has stringent technical requirements as prescribed by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

Such materials are manufactured by a few international companies, who expressed their "inability" to supply on account of a complete glut in stocks and ban of exports by the source countries, the ministry said.

Only a limited quantity was offered and procured by the procurement organisation of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

The statement further said that the ministry is in touch with industry bodies, medical textiles manufacturers and suppliers since January 30 to augment the supply.

"Five indigenous manufacturers came forward and offered fabric proto-types for testing at the accredited laboratory of South India Textiles Research Association (SITRA) at Coimbatore," the ministry said.

All these attempts were directed at indigenous development of manufacturing sources as international supplies could not be possible.

The testing was done at SITRA and the results of fabric samples were referred to technical experts to consider and decide on the technical requirements for COVID-19, considering the information on nature and characteristics of SARS-COVID-2 virus known by to the medical experts, the statement added.

The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare finalised the technical requirements on March 2.

The textiles ministry further said that so far proto type garments of six Indian manufacturers have passed the prescribed tests conducted at SITRA, and two more manufacturers are forthcoming as on date.

In addition, more and more manufacturers have been invited to offer their proto type samples, and come forward to meet the requirement of the government, it added.

The government has already banned exports of all personal protective equipment including Body Coveralls, N-95 Masks, 2-ply/3-ply surgical masks.

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